After going to Haiti, I am even more convinced of something that I suspected to be true for a long time:
The difference between survivors and victims is determined by whether they have experiences or excuses
Think about it. You can take 2 people with the same diagnosis and they are either going to lay down and let it beat them or they are going to pull themselves up and be a better person for it. I see that all the time here and it was only magnified in Haiti. I expected to travel to Haiti and help a lot of earthquake and poverty victims, but I found something much different. Instead I found some of the toughest people in the world. I think some of that is because you cannot survive in the tent cities without a pretty good measure of resolve, and those people certainly have it.
So I think for the next few days, I want to share some survivor stories with you because I think they really illustrate what is going on in Haiti and I think they help us to reflect more accurately on our own situations.
Survivor story #1:
I actually don't have a picture of this lady but she is one of the "mother hens" at the clinic tent city. She came to us complaining about shoulder pain. The orthopedic surgeon got her an x-ray and what we discovered was that her collar bone was completely broken in two and separated like a step off. For 4 months she had been taking care of the cities children with this injury. We got her a sling to immobilize that arm, but when I saw her the next day she was not wearing it because she can't take care of a community of children with only one arm.
Survivor story #2:
This girl stole my heart! She lost her entire family in the earthquake and had a serious leg injury. Somehow she got connected with YWAM and they are letting her live on base and prepare for their discipleship training school. The first time I met her, we were discussing the possibility of needing to take out one of her screws and she broke down. It was explained to me that her plates and screws were most likely applied without anesthesia and she was afraid of the pain. It turned out that the screw was fine and we were able to actually start walking instead. This is her taking her first steps in 4 months. By the time I left, she owned most of my stuff, the card Jack made, a cross a friend gave me to give away, and I helped her create an email account so we could keep in touch. :) Pray for her because she is going to do great things!
Survivor Story #3
I spent a good amount of time with this girl. It took me several days, lots of interaction, and a few too many gifts to get a smile out of her. :) On Monday I rode in the back of an shockless ambulance (without AC) with her so we could get x-rays of her back. We did some serious bonding through that little experience. She had a door fall on her back during the earthquake and crush several of her thoracic vertebrae. Those pieces have now fused together into a large hump on her back that is pulling at her spinal cord and causing her to be a paraplegic. In the states, a surgeon would straighten her back with rods and give her cord the room it needed, but that is not possible in Haiti. I know bouncing around in the back of that ambulance must have been so painful for her, but she never shed a tear. Her mom is pregnant and has kids spread out between different tent cities. You can pray that God heals her spine.
I look forward to sharing more survivor stories with you over the next few days.
On a personal note:
I woke up today covered from shoulders to toe in a rash. It appears that the "scabies" were actually a skin reaction to something I was allergic to and that has now gone systemic. I got a cortisone shot this morning, but it sure doesn't seem to be working yet. I am nervous because I am supposed to go to work tomorrow and I don't want to expose my patients to something if it is not an allergic reaction after all. Pray that it will either clear up or show what it really is so I can get the correct treatment and not pass it along. I also haven't felt like eating since getting home and that would normally be a bonus but in this case, it is contributing to fatigue and an overall feeling of blah. I need that to end soon too because I miss feeling like myself.